In Shabbat 63a it says:

"On the topic of Jerusalem, Raḥava said that Rabbi Yehuda said: The logs of Jerusalem used for fuel were from the cinnamon tree, and when they would ignite them, their fragrance would waft through all of Eretz Yisrael. And since Jerusalem was destroyed, these fragrant logs were buried, and only a sliver the size of a grain of barley remains, and it is located in the treasury of [gazzai] Tzimtzemai the queen (צמצמאי מלכתא)."

In this answer I brought the opinion of the Maharatz Chajes that the name Tzimtzemai is the result of a scribal error and the original name was Zenobia, who was the queen of Palmyra (Tadmor) in the 3rd century CE. In the same source brought in that answer, his grandson Rabbi Tzvi Peretz Chajes made a good argument against this view. So is there another explanation for who she was?

  • 1
    Fascinating question!
    – Dov
    Sep 21 at 7:18
  • Interestingly the Jastrow entry has: צִימְצְמָאֵי, צוּמְצְ׳ m. pl. (v. צִמְצֵם) scarce things, curiosities. Sabb. 63ᵃ משתכח בי גזא דצו׳ דמלכתא Ms. M. (ed. בגזאי דצי׳ מ׳; Ms. O. דצמ׳ מ׳) it is to be found in the queen’s collection of curiosities. [Comment.: of queen Tsimts’mai.] ... he seems to have thought it possible that צמצמאי did not refer to a proper noun and left that possibility secondarily as a comment. Sep 22 at 0:04
  • Here's the view of R. Yoel Horowitz ( מערכי לב יבא הלוי, p. 32): לפע"ד הוא שם כנוי כללי שייחדו חז"ל לומושל מאומות העולם שידו תקיפה על ישראל ונוסד על מליצת הפתגם שנתנו רבנן דאגדתא בפתיחתא למדרש איכה סי' כ"ג ולמ"ד בפי נבוכדנצר דאמר בעי מצמצמא יתי למיעבד לי כדעבד לאבי, והנחו חז"ל שם הכינוי צמצמאי על כל ממלכה מעם אחר להזכיר כי ה' שלחה במפגיע והבן Sep 22 at 0:34
  • My German isn't all that strong, but this appears to suggest that צמצמאי מלכתא is a reference to the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis. Sep 22 at 0:49


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